Author Archives: Nathaniel

Plans for Porchfest 2022

Below is the information from the Green Team home page leading up to May 21. It all worked out as planned! And the weather, though hot, was not the impediment that rain would have been. The organizers all deserve a huge amount of credit for their hard work, resulting in a crowd many times the 250 we initially expected. Please continue to think kindly of the event sponsors whose logos are shown below. Now we are looking forward to the Second Annual West Chester Porchfest, in May 2023!

Let’s get ready for West Chester Porchfest May 21!

Saturday May 21: music, dance, poetry, food trucks, info tables, children’s activities, and more. Volunteer your porch, sponsor the event, or put it on your calendar to enjoy.

See the performance schedule and locations here.

We are planning a special occasion for you to come out to celebrate springtime and music. WCGT has partnered with Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste of West Chester Borough to sponsor this free fun family-oriented event on May 21 with performances and exhibits from S. Church St. to S. Bradford Ave and W. Miner to Dean St., and in Everhart Park.

Many neighbors have offered us their porches, and bands and solo performers have volunteered their talents. From jazz to Appalachian mountain folk music, from rock bands to Spanish guitar, we are offering something for everyone.  Food trucks and picnic tables at Ironworks Church and children’s activities at Everhart Park will add to the festivities. In case it rains, rain date is the 22nd.

Porchfest originated in Ithaca NY 15 years ago and has spread to dozens of communities across the country.  Neighbors meet neighbors as they stroll around listening to the music.  We are hoping to start a new community tradition. 

See Porchfest’s own web site here. Read all about it in the Daily Local News here.

Many thanks to our dedicated Porchfest sponsors:

The 2022 Porchfest poster, now a collector’s item:

Mondays at Everhart Park

West Chester Green Team invites children aged 5-10 to a free summer series of environmental and cultural readings and related activities. All events, by the play shed on the south side of Everhart Park, West Chester, start at 7pm.

Fill out online registration form here. Registrants will also fill out a waiver form. For more info email here. Planned schedule:

June 20–Week one–Planting activity–Summer reading books for kids to choose–Story–planting cress –books available for summer reading for the children. 

June 27–Week two–Endangered animals–reading–craft–animal mask making.  

July 5–Tuesday–Week three–Cooking with the Co-op–Book on growing/cooking veggies–making tacos.

July 11–Week four–Stories of India–focus on elephants–Indian food tasting. 

July 18–Week five–reading about stars with the Dark Sky Committee. Information on fireflies in dark skies.

July 25–Week 6–Plastic-Free Story– Leaf craft.  

August 1–Week 7–Tales of Jamaica–sea animals and Jamaican food tasting–Story–Craft. 

August 8–Week 8–Green party–Gelato and music– Farewell party–guitar–ice cream.

Email or call 610-692-3849 to register Photos are from 2021 Mondays at Melton.

Earth Day Chalkings in West Chester

Thanks to the many owners of businesses and other properties, passersby on Earth Day, April 22, were treated to—and often had to walk around or over—a variety of artistic chalkings on sidewalks along High St. (Read about our opening ceremony HERE.)

Below are some noteworthy samples, identified by location.

Bryn Mawr Running
2 West Market
Meatball U.
Katie Mac
Unitarian Congregation
Bryn Mawr Running
Dia Doce

Earth Day in West Chester: Opening Ceremony

The Green Team is grateful to the many businesses and institutions that participated by chalking on their own sidewalks or letting our talented team of West Chester University students create their own works honoring Mother Earth on the 53rd annual Earth Day, Friday April 22, 2022. (See photos of many sidewalk chalkings HERE.)

Thanks to WCU students Cayla Behrle, Daniel Keeler, Ava Mullertz, Karen Villalobos Bedolla, and Christian White for this winning poster design

Our event started at 9am, with some chalkers hard at work and others resting from their previous artistic labors. The official opening ceremony was held at 11am at the archway at Philips Memorial Hall, West Chester University, moderated by Dr. Bradley Flamm, Director of the Office of Sustainability.

West Chester Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste welcomed the crowd of about 40 people, spoke to the importance of environment in the Borough and beyond, and also unveiled the WC Green Team’s 2022 yard sign (below).

The WC Green Team’s 2022 yard sign, designed by Linda Maxwell

WCU president Christopher Fiorentino welcomed us to campus and spoke to the University’s commitment to sustainability, including widespread use of geothermal energy, which allowed the University to close and demolish its former coal-fired plant.

Our distinguished guest for the occasion, US Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, relayed the good news that in just the 3 years she has been in Washington, she has seen a much better bipartisan dialogue evolve about climate change.

Courtney presenting the Unsung Hero award to Christiane

WCU grad Courtney Finneran, Chair of the Green Team’s Living Landscapes Committee, spoke in praise of Christiane Torres, recipient of the Green Team’s 2022 Unsung Hero award. She particularly mentioned that “when she’s not digging in the dirt and planting native species in hard-to-manage areas between the curb and the sidewalk,… Christiane has taken on the lion’s share of the technical work for the West Chester Green Team’s annual auction.” The award was conferred by WCGT board member Rani Norley and former WC Mayor Jordan Norley.

Professor Megan Schraedley then recognized five of her Communications students—Cayla Behrle, Daniel Keeler, Ava Mullertz, Karen Villalobos Bedolla, and Christian White—who designed the very effective winning poster for the day, at the top of this page.

Jess Cadorette explains the Common Environmental Agenda

Finally, Jess Cadorette of Conservation Voters of PA announced the completion of the Chester County Environment Alliance’s Common Environment Agenda, to be presented soon to the County Commissioners.

For other details of the opening ceremony, please see Bill Rettew, “Earth Day recognized at WCU,” Daily Local News, 4/22/22.

Many thanks to Erica Thompson, University Communications and Marketing, for the 2 above and 3 below photos of the event.

Mayor DeBaptiste welcomes the crowd, President Fiorentino and Rep. Houlahan await, and the WCGT 2022 yard sign about to be unveiled
Luci setting the ambiance at the archway

Earth Day celebrators under cherry tree

Hillsdale School food gardens, 2022

New garden beds at Hillsdale. Photo Hillsdale Facebook.

From Hello West Chester by Cara Corridoni, 4/4/22

Last weekend a group of Hillsdale parents, students and community members erected eight garden beds on the backside of the elementary school’s property. Once the build and mulching is complete, the beds will be filled with plants provided by the Chester County Food Bank. Students across all classrooms will take part in a school wide planting day on Earth Day, April 22. The gardens will be tended by Hillsdale families over the summer and students will then get a chance to help harvest the bounty when they return in the fall. The majority of which will be taken to the Chester County Food Bank for distribution into the community. The remainder will be used for teaching purposes (and probably some light snacking).  

The mulching phase of the project is planned for Saturday. If you find yourself with some free time this weekend, volunteers are still needed. Sign up here.

Looking for free garden space this summer?

Our coordinator Dave Lorom at the Barclay

The West Chester Green Team is again matching up residents who would like free garden space with community garden plots that we have located for summer 2022. Our garden plots are usually 4 X 4 or 4 X 8 feet (we might be able to help), tools, and your time. To the left: beds at the Barclay before planting, 3/17/22.

2021 at the Barclay

We particularly want to help area residents who wish to grow some healthy food, for themselves or to donate, but who lack space of their own. Children are very welcome to join family members in the garden areas, and we also are planning a regular program of readings and events to introduce kids to the environment.

The West Chester Green Team believes that gardening and growing food offer us all good ways to get in touch with the natural world, give us a feeling of acting for the good, and are educational to all concerned.

One bed left here (2021 late summer)

If you are interested, please act expeditiously, as some early crops can be sown as early as March, and we will assign beds as soon as we have a good match with interested people.

To apply, please email here with this information:

• Your name and names of others in the family who would be gardening with you

• Your address

An idea of what you’d like to grow

Any prior gardening experience

Any other remarks that would help us assign you to a garden.

From this year’s predecessor program: gardening for children, in 2019-20

For inspiration, see our 2020 garden video series here, a report in Hello, West Chester about our 2021 community garden program here, and “Community Gardens are Good for People” here.

US Energy production: not going well

by Bill Haaf

Political leaders are talking about climate but unfortunately, America and the world are still on a path to hit a 2.5 C increase in average temperatures.

Terrible impacts will occur: billions of human deaths, wars, drops in crop yields, collapse of ocean and lake fisheries due to heating and lack of oxygen in the water, loss of huge forests, continuing rapid decline in biodiversity on land and in the water….

Before you vote for US Senate and Representative, ask candidates: “Have you and will you push for renewable energy? Do you see climate as a crisis?”

As the following charts show, the US is still very low in renewable energy, even if we were to count nuclear as renewable because its power stations do not produce greenhouse gases. The first chart shows electricity generation only.

The second chart shows even worse news in total energy use:

• Fossil fuels totaling 79%: petroleum oil 35%, natural gas 34%, coal 10%. And this does not count all those methane leaks all along the supply chain into  your home

• Renewables 12%.

• Nuclear 9%.

2022: Are we at the climate crossroad?

by Paula Kline, Ready For 100 and West Chester Green Team

Many of us in the West Chester area have come a long way in the last year in our understanding of climate change. The extreme weather in June of 2021 and the devastating flooding from Hurricane Ida this past September gave us all a warning that climate disruption is too close for comfort. This fall was a pivotal moment for clarifying what we are all facing and what we, in West Chester, can do.

To start with, the UN published a scientific assessment of climate in an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The IPCC report verified that climate change is now clearly occurring, that this change is accurately predicted by the climate models, that significant further climate change is already baked in, and that to stay within the guard rail of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, we need to drastically reduce our emissions and dramatically increase access to renewable energy. The authors didn’t mince words: they described the report as a “code red for humanity.” Without immediate measures, the IPCC makes clear, the world is likely to hit 1.5C by the early 2030s. It is a sobering and challenging picture.

The IPCC report served as a backdrop to the UN meeting on climate in early November in Glasgow, known as COP26 (for the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties).  Some progress was made at this conference. Learn more here and here.

On the home front this fall, we continued to encourage local government leadership and inspire action at the household and business level. West Whiteland, West Bradford and East Fallowfield joined a growing number of Pennsylvania communities—over 35—in passing resolutions to align with global climate targets. There are now more than 170 communities in the U.S. to commit to ambitious goals to address the threats to our health and property in the face of extreme weather and air pollution.

Several states, including Hawaii, New York, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, and California, and 11 counties have made similar commitments. Local government leadership has been critical to the growing movement to transition away from polluting fossil fuels: in 2016, less than 2% of people in the US lived in a place committed to 100%. Today, that number is 28%—1 in 4 people in the US now live in a place committed to 100% clean energy, including right here in the West Chester area.

Highlights from the end of 2021

• We celebrated National Energy Efficiency Day with a workshop on Efficiency First! and with declarations from Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, the Chester County Commissioners, West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley, and the state legislature. (West Chester proclamation to the left; download County proclamation here.)

• We organized the third Chester County Clean Energy Virtual Tour which kicked off on October 2nd. It showcased the solar and other clean technologies adopted locally through 3-minute video “tours,” which are both entertaining and informative, of farms, homes, businesses, government buildings and houses of worship. Dave Weber accompanied his tour with guitar music and evocative songs from “You are my Sunshine” to “Let the Sun Shine.” He and his family avoided over 73,000 pounds of CO2 emissions and often get electric bills that say, “No payment due.”

The tour also gave Chester County building owners and renters a glimpse at how a variety of solar systems look in and around structures with different architectural styles, from an 1840’s barn to LEED-certified buildings. In addition to homes, other tours focused on public buildings. West Bradford’s Township Building illustrates the benefit of installing a Geothermal Heating and Cooling System in new and renovated government facilities. The Stroud Research Center offered an inspiring example of the energy efficiency that offices and schools could undertake, in addition to its exceptional water management system. Central Baptist Church in Wayne shared their multi-year plan to become a Net-Zero congregation. The Hillside Elementary tour (Tredyffrin/Easttown School District), narrated by students, highlighted the benefits of green roofs. If you missed the tour, check out the videos here.

Looking ahead to a critical year 2022

At our annual retreat we decided to continue to build public awareness and engagement to support (1) the policy level action at the municipal, county and state level; (2) household level action and (3) energy transitions for high emitters in our community.

Understanding that the window of opportunity for avoiding the worst aspects of climate disruptions, we encourage you to discover what you can do. Here are a few options:

Policy level action at the municipal, county, and state level

• Contact your municipal Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) or Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) and ask them what more they can do to lead by example. Ask if the municipality has an energy transition plan, a climate action plan and a natural disaster/resilience plan. Urge them to commit to shifting to renewable electricity and electric vehicles (EV’s) for their fleet and police vehicles. Ask them to work with PECO to make solar and EV-ready buildings connections easier for everyone.

• Speak up: be sure you are on the mailing list for the advocacy group of your choice, so you can make sure your voice is heard on state-level decisions. There are many bills hostile to our future we need to stay abreast off. Options include PennEnvironment, the PA Chapter of the Sierra Club and Conservation Voters of PA.

• Volunteer to spread the word at tabling events in the West Chester Area. We have a “virtual table.”

Think about your household and daily life

•Learn what you can do where you live by consulting the resources gathered by West Chester’s Clean Energy Future, an outgrowth of the shared work done by members of the West Chester Area Council of Governments’ Clean Energy Plan.

• Get a PECO energy assessment (which is free for low income households). Only a fraction of area households have taken this simple and cost effective first step. Do it this week!

• Find out if solar is right for your house through Solarize Southeast PA.

• Take the West Chester Area Electric Vehicle survey. Need a new car this year? Make it electric!

• If you have a house you would like to include in the 2022 Clean Energy Tour, or would like to help organize the tour, contact Nora Ziegler.

• Let’s get high emitters on board, such as school districts and water authorities. If you want to help them with their transition to clean energy, we are looking for volunteers! Contact Paula Kline if you are interested in supporting a clean energy transition for the West Chester Area School District.

• Supermarkets are high emitters and contribute to the pollution from the refrigerants they use in their cold aisles. We are organizing to address this issue locally. Want to help? Contact Marian Pflaumer.

• Volunteer to spread the word at tabling events in the West Chester Area. We have a “virtual table” and hope to be back at township community days and local events next summer. Contact Kathy McDevitt to get involved with the Outreach Committee.

Whether you appreciate the beauty of the natural world, love your children or grandchildren or cherish the entire commonwealth of life that is now at risk, you can play a part. Please get involved at whatever level you can!

Light Pollution: Why it’s a problem and what we can do about it

by Professor Marc Gagné

Most of us are familiar with air, water, and land pollution, but did you know that light can also be a pollutant? Since Thomas Edison’s patent of the tungsten light bulb in 1906, artificial electric lighting has transformed our lives. But in the process, we have lost an
important part of our human heritage: the night sky.

Less than 100 years ago, most everyone could look up and see a spectacular starry night sky. Today 80% of Americans cannot see the Milky Way from their home. Over the last century, the increased, excessive and widespread use of artificial light at night has not only impaired our view of the universe but has adversely affected the Earth’s climate through human energy consumption, numerous plants and animals that have relied on Earth’s regular rhythm of night and day for billions of years, and human health and safety.

Light pollution is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Large amounts of electricity are needed to generate light, and electricity is often produced by burning fossil fuels. Uncontrolled outdoor lighting wastes energy. As much as 50% of outdoor lighting is wasted, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to climate change.

Plants and animals depend on the daily cycle of light and dark to regulate reproduction, nourishment, sleep, and protection from predators. Scientific research has linked light pollution to negative and deadly outcomes for many creatures including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and plants.

For example, some nocturnal birds use the moon and stars for navigation during their migrations; and they can become disoriented when flying through brightly lit areas. Female sea turtles shy away from areas with bright lights, which interrupts their nesting patterns. Newly hatched turtles are so drawn to lights, so instead of heading to the ocean, they often end up on land instead.

Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health as well, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, and breast cancer. Scientists have also established a link between light pollution and air pollution. Light from our cities can destroy nitrate radicals that form at night and help to cleanse the air.

In addition to the negative economic, environmental and health impacts associated with light pollution, we are losing a precious natural resource: our nighttime environment.

Outdoor lighting illuminates the sky, hiding the stars and changing how we experience the night. If you would like more information about light pollution and what we can do now to improve our nighttime environment, the International Dark-Sky Association is a good place to start.

Despite a century of uncontrolled outdoor lighting, there are ways to combat light pollution that will make a difference right away. The West Chester Green Team is addressing the problem of light pollution by creating a local Dark Sky Initiative.

If you would like to learn more about the West Chester Dark Sky Initiative, please contact Marc Gagné at The Dark Sky committee’s kick-off meeting will be held in the West Chester University Planetarium on Tuesday, February 1st at 6:00 PM. All are welcome to attend.